Last Updated on February 19, 2022 by Allison Price
Horses can become pregnant as naturally and as normal as other mammals and humans. We can understand your nervousness if your mare is pregnant for the first time.
Horse pregnancy can be divided into three stages. Stage 1 covers conceiving up to 3 months. Stage 2 is about 3 months. The second stage, which is when mares begin to show and the foetus starts to look like a miniature horse, takes place between 3 and 6 months. Horses go through the last stage of pregnancy between 6 and 6 months after conception. This is typically around 340 days.
Before breeding, it is important to conduct a thorough medical exam on the mare and stallion. You should also take extra care of your pregnant mare.
Horses can breed, conceive, and give birth in the wild without science intervention. Farms monitor the entire process to ensure that the foal and mare are healthy and free of infection.
Continue reading for details on the signs and stages of pregnancy in horses, as well as their timelines and care.
Stages in pregnancy for horses
A horse’s average gestation time is between 11-12 months. Horses usually foal between 330-345 day after conception. After a mare has conceived, she will not accept any further advances from her stallions. To confirm, you can find the signs of pregnancy in horses here.
Three stages are involved in horse pregnancy, as mentioned previously:
- From conception to 3 Months
- Between 3 and 6 Months
- Plus 6 months after that
These stages are divided based on fetal development.
1. From conception to 3 Months
A 55-70 day ultrasound will reveal a heartbeat and the tiny horse fetus. It will continue to grow, and when it reaches 3 months old it will look more like a horse.
An ultrasound and blood test should be done at this time. It is recommended that you have an ultrasound and blood test done by this time.
2. 3 to 6 Months
The third month is the beginning of the second trimester. The fetus begins to grow during this trimester. The second milestone in a horse’s pregnancy is the 6 th month. By this point, mares begin to show by their sixth month.
A mare that has foaled before will be more likely to show than a first-time mother. The mare’s belly will grow as the foal gets bigger and heavier. This is when it’s best to not ride a mare that is pregnant.
3. 6 months from Estimated Foaling Day (EFD).
The average gestation time for horses is approximately 340 days. After the 6 th month, the mare’s pregnant belly begins to grow quickly as the unborn horse grows.
A mare’s estimated foaling date can be determined by an ultrasound. The foal’s due date will be approximately two weeks prior to the mother’s udder starts to swell. It might also start to produce colostrum, a sticky yellow liquid that is the mother’s first milk. This will be the first food the baby horse will eat.
You should be watching the mare carefully for signs of pregnancy starting at the 315 th day.
Breeding in horses
Horses are bred during the long summer months. Mares would feel heat after 21 days of estrous. After initial courtship and teasing, the mares and stallions will have intercourse. Horse breeders usually allow both horses to mate until the mare has children.
You want more information? This is the complete guide to horse breeding behavior.
Pregnancy Signs in Horses
Ultrasound is the best way to determine if your horse is pregnant. However, there are other signs that could indicate that your mare may have conceived.
Here are some signs that horses may be pregnant.
1. Refusal of mate
Mares that have already had a baby will not mate with their stallion. Mares will not mate with stallion if they are allowed to approach him.
2. There is no sign of estrus
A mare who has already given birth will not show signs of heat.
3. Restricted movement
This theory doesn’t have any scientific support. However, most horse owners believe this to be true. It has been noted that mares who are pregnant would avoid sudden movements to protect their foetus.
4. Swollen belly
Horses can show signs of pregnancy just like humans. However, most horses begin to notice this sign as early as 11 months after their first period. It is not a sign of pregnancy, but it can be a warning sign.
5. Rectal examination
A vet will conduct the rectal exam. To feel the uterus and small sac containing foal or ovaries, he would place his hand into the rectum. It can be used to determine if the mare has become pregnant, or not, as early as 15 to 19. It requires a lot expertise.
An ultrasound is the best way to determine if a mare has become pregnant. An ultrasound can be done as early as 55-70 days into a horse’s pregnancy. To get a clear picture of the amniotic sac, and the uterus, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the mare’s rectum. You can also listen for the foal’s heartbeat with this test.
7. Tests of blood or urine
At 2 to 3 months of gestation, the blood and urine tests can be very accurate.
Are you curious about how horses communicate their ideas? This article explains how horses communicate.
How to Care For a Pregnant Horse.
Horses give birth naturally in the wild and don’t require any medical assistance. You must take care of your mare at farms to ensure smooth delivery.
Here are some ways to care for a pregnant horse.
1. Regular exercise
Mares need to be active and do regular exercise. But don’t force them to do too much. Moderation is important. If your pregnant horse does not feel like exercising at all, you can let it go. More information on riding a pregnant horse.
2. Proper nutrition
It is best to give the mare regular food for the first few months of her pregnancy. As she progresses in her pregnancy, you can gradually increase the amount of grains and hay in the feed. It is a good idea to add vitamins, minerals and salt as she progresses in her pregnancy.
Farnam Mare plus Gestation & Lactation Supplement is my favorite choice for pregnant horses.
3. Do not ride a pregnant mare
Yes, you can ride the mare during the first 6-8 months of pregnancy. You should avoid this for your safety. This could pose a risk to the unborn baby.
Your horse will be ready to give birth after approximately 340 days of pregnancy. The foaling process can be complicated.
Many preparations are required before foaling. There are many things you must do before your horse foals.
A pregnant mare should be vaccinated six weeks before foaling. A booster for tetanus should be given to the mare along with an additional booster for any other disease in your area.
The foaling horse
Indoor foaling requires that you prepare the foaling area before you deliver the animals. The size of the stall should be approximately 14 by 14 feet. You can make a double stall if you don’t have enough space. For added comfort, the floor of your stall should be covered with straw or hay.
Removing the vulvar stitches (caslick)
When the mare is purchased, it should be checked for any vulvar stitches. If the mare has any stitches, it should be removed at minimum 2 weeks before her estimated foaling date.
The mare may get a big tear if you don’t remove the caslicks. Foaling can cause severe damage to the mare’s perineum because the stitches reduce the opening.
Signs that Horses are Foaling
When is the right time to foal?
- Colostrum will drip from the udder and swell.
- Relax the muscles around the mare’s tail end.
- As the foal positions itself for birth, her belly will shrink.
The Stages of Foaling
There are three stages to foaling.
Stage 1 lasts between 1 and 4 hours, as the uterine contractions become stronger in preparation for the delivery.
If there are any complications, the second stage of foaling can take between 20 and 1 hour.
The third stage in pregnancy for horses is the passing of placenta. This can occur within 3 hours after delivery. It is important not to interrupt this process as it could cause mare uterine damage. The vet should be consulted if the placenta does not pass within 3 hours.
The mare should be dewormed within an hour after giving birth.
What do you do right after horse birth?
For 2 to 3 days, the umbilical cord should be immersed in a solution of povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine.
The foal should be capable of standing for at least one hour after giving birth.
Are you unsure what to feed your foal? This is the complete guide to foal feeding .
Horse Pregnancy: FAQs
We are sure there are many other questions swirling in your head right now. This section will address some of the most frequently asked questions about pregnancy in horses.
How can I tell if my horse’s pregnant?
Ultrasound is the best and most reliable method to determine if a mare is pregnant. Although it is possible to determine if a mare has become pregnant within 19 days of her due date, this requires expertise. Horse pregnancy can also be determined by blood or urine tests, which can be done 2 to 3 months after the pregnancy.
A horse can have twins?
Horses can have twins, but it is very rare. It’s as rare as 1 out 10,000 pregnancies. One of the twins often dies before a horse conceives. Lori Tucker was able to deliver two daughters from her mare, which was a great success story. Both of their babies were healthy and survived to birth.
Is a mare able to become pregnant but not appear pregnant?
Visual assessment is not enough to tell if your mare has become pregnant. Some mares develop swollen stomachs around six months of their pregnancy. Others don’t appear until the eleventh month. There is no way to know if your mare will have fetal movements. To confirm horse conception, contact your vet.